Friday, August 21, 2009

ABC's Charles Gibson to Cindy Sheehan: Thanks for your sacrifice. Now get lost.

In an appearance August 18 on WLS radio in Chicago, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson was asked about anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan's plans to travel to Martha's Vineyard next week, where she will protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while President Obama is vacationing there. Gibson, whose newscast and network featured Sheehan when she led anti-war protests outside President Bush's Texas ranch in 2005, answered, "Enough already."

That's a remarkably different stance from the one Gibson took four years ago. On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. "Cindy Sheehan is her name," Gibson began. "She says she's not moving until the president meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?" During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, "We're going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she's still standing her ground. ABC's Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details…" The next day, Gibson reported, "All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan…" Sheehan was mentioned in several other ABC newscasts, as well.

This week, after the Washington Examiner reported that Sheehan will be protesting on Martha's Vineyard (see here and here), WLS radio host Don Wade, noting all the coverage that Sheehan received in 2005, asked Gibson "whether we're going to see some coverage of Cindy Sheehan…do you suppose Cindy is going to make the news again?"

Gibson's answer was sympathetic but clear: No. "I gather she's going back to Martha's Vineyard," Gibson began.

It's such a sad story. Martha Raddatz [of ABC News] wrote a terrific book about one battle that took place in Iraq, and it was the battle in which Cindy's son was killed. And you look at somebody like that and you think here's somebody who's just trying to find some meaning in her son's death. And you have to be sympathetic to her. Anybody who has given a son to this country has made an enormous sacrifice, and you have to be sympathetic. But enough already.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

This week a number of observers have wondered whether the press will cover Sheehan now that she is protesting a war run by Barack Obama as opposed to George W. Bush. Gibson's interview strongly suggests it won't happen.

By: Byron York -